Glastonbury Abbey Symposium 9 June 2011 Abbey Shield

Glass vessels, summarised from specialist report by Dr Hugh Willmott, FSA MIFA

Senior Lecturer in European Historical Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield

A small but good assemblage of vessel glass was recovered from Glastonbury Abbey dating to the late medieval and post-medieval periods. The glass can be divided into three chronologically defined groups that relate to broader activities taking place on the site.

Four vessels were identified from the monastic period; a hanging lamp, a urinal, and two flasks. Despite the very small sample, the absence of any finer tablewares is interesting, especially as these tended to be made in a higher quality more durable soda glass.

The most interesting and diverse range of drinking glasses and containers come from the period following the dissolution, c. 1540-1640. The high-quality English glass industry was starting to flourish, before it reached a hiatus with the onset of the Civil War. Although the assemblage is only a small and rather fragmented one, it does contain a surprisingly representative sample of the types of glasses being consumed in England at this time. It seems likely that these glasses originated from affluent households nearby to the abbey.

There are four drinking glasses dating to the 18th century, all made in a good quality lead crystal that is typical for vessels of the period. However, the greatest number of vessel glass fragments come from post-medieval wine bottles.

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